Rob Gronkowski will retire after 11 seasons, 4 Super Bowl championships

For the second time, Rob Gronkowski is giving up.

The five-time Pro Bowl and four-time All-Pro tournament fighter, known for both his great personality and his skill on the football field, have announced that he will give up the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

In college, I was asked to write about a dream job opportunity I would like to take advantage of and where that location would be. Every time I had to write about my future, I chose to be a professional footballer. However, we had to choose a location for this task. So I wrote that I wanted to play in Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tampa, for several reasons, because the sunny weather was number 1. I completely forgot to write this report up to 2 years ago when I had the opportunity to join Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And let me say that the trip to Tampa over the last two years has taken over what I originally wrote about in college. And for that, I want to thank the whole Buccaneers first class organization for the amazing ride, entrusting me to play back and help build the championship team. I now go back to my nursing home, walking upright away from the football again, knowing that every time I stepped into the field, I gave everything I had, good or bad. The friendships and relationships I have established will last forever, and I appreciate each of my teammates and coaches for giving them everything they had. From retirement, back to winning football and another championship, and now back to relaxation, thank you all. Buccaneers fans, Krewe, it’s not possible without you, you’ve brought it all in every game, thank you for everything you do. Health next, maybe sail the sea 🏴‍☠️ Arghhhhhh !!

Although he is not at the top of the career charts in any of the statistical categories, it is safe to say that no bottleneck in football history affected the game more than he did. Antonio Gates and Tony Gonzalez turned the relaxed game into elite offensive weapons. Gronkowski took the position to a new level by setting players like Travis Kelce and George Kittle behind the stage.

Rob Gronkowski’s second NFL act is after two seasons with Bucs. (Jason Getz – USA TODAY Sports)

Gronk’s legacy is intertwined with that of Tom Brady

A 6-6,270-pound athlete with elite hands and skill, Gronkowski was a nightmare to hit a secondary breakthrough. Good luck if you were a line guard tasked with men’s coverage or a 205-pound security guard hoping to cross his muscles for a jump ball.

When he didn’t make the highlights, he was blocking Gronkowski’s work. He was very good at that too.

Gronkowski’s enduring legacy is more than anything but Tom Brady’s main target legacy. Brady is the most successful quarterback in NFL history and has achieved most of his accomplishments in New England without the services of an elitist wide receiver, saving up for any spectacular season playing with Randy Moss.

After Mossi, Brady is on the list of the best Patriot receivers, without a certain order: Julian Edelman, Deion Branch, Wes Welker and David Patten. Apologizing to Edelman’s hive, no one on this list remembers the hall of fame.

But Brady had a Gronk. And no one else in the NFL did that.

Gronkowski set a new standard for the narrow ends of the NFL

When he joined New England from Arizona as a second-round voter in 2010, Gronkowski was nothing the NFL had ever seen. After earning 10 touchdowns as a beginner, he reached an explosive second season with 90 catches, 1327 yards and 17 touchdown campaigns to earn his first Pro Bowl and All-Pro notes.

FOXBOROUGH, MA - OCTOBER 14: Tom Brady # 12 talks to Rob Gronkowski # 87 in the New England Patriots after winning the Kansas City Chiefs at Gillette Stadium on October 14, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Adam Glanzman / Getty Images)

FOXBOROUGH, MA – OCTOBER 14: Tom Brady # 12 talks to Rob Gronkowski # 87 in the New England Patriots after winning the Kansas City Chiefs at Gillette Stadium on October 14, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman / Getty Images)

The injuries threatened to derail Gronki

The injuries eventually took their toll. Gronkowski lost to the New York Giants during the 2011 season at the AFC Championship after a high ankle sprain in the New England Super Bowl XLVI. He needed surgery after the season.

The following season, he broke his forearm twice, including during a play-off victory over Houston Texans. This injury required several surgeries. He also needed back surgery this season. His ailments kicked him out of the first six games in 2013. He endured seven games before finishing a damaged reserve in 2013 with a broken knee that left him in tears for his ACL and MCL. He suffered several concussions along the way.

In stock, his body left reasonable questions about whether Gronkowski’s career could survive his physical style of play. He immediately removed those worries in 2014, the year he made his mark on the Patriots’ tradition. Gronkowski recovered from a series of injuries and played 15 games, scoring 82 assists, 1,124 yards and 12 touchdowns. The Gronk was back. He was awarded the NFL Return of the Year Player for his efforts. He also won his first Super Bowl.

It was Gronkowski’s first of three rings with the Patriots when he became the second star of the two Brady Super Bowl trilogues. By the time he finished collecting rings in New England, he had gained so much influence that no one was struck when he dented using Vince Lombard’s trophy as a baseball bat. It was just the Gronk who was the Gronk. And that was the formula for success.

BOSTON, MAY - FEBRUARY 07: New England Patriots Ranking Rob Gronkowski (87) brewed beer at the Patriots Victory Parade on the streets of Boston, Boston, Massachusetts on February 7, 2017 to celebrate Super Bowl LI victory.  (Photo by Fred Kfoury III / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Gronk starts Gronk. (Via Fred Kfoury III / Icon Sportswire Getty Images)

The last, fruitful run

Gronkowski had a rare bright light in a 13: 3 Super Bowl LIII win over the Los Angeles Rams. He caught two passes in the critical fourth quarter at 47 yards, making Patriots the only touchdown in the 2-yard line. It was a code for a spectacular career, and Gronkowski named it this season.

But Brady continued. And when he went to Tampa Bay, Gronkowski couldn’t stand another race with a future fellow in the Hall of Fame. The warm climate certainly contributed. Gronkowski retired. And of course, the pair won their last Super Bowl with Gronkowski, getting two touchdowns from Brady against the Kansas City Chiefs.

After another successful, albeit non-circulating, season, Gronkowski ends his career with 621 hits (10th in the close), 9286 yards (fifth) and 92 touchdowns (third). He achieved these results with 143 games, just over half the time it took for Gonzalez (270 games) and Gates (236 games) to reach the career results of their trophies. He also has to show off his fist rings.

Although Gronkowski says it’s the end, it may not be the case. His agent, Drew Rosenhaus, told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that he wasn’t sure if Gronkowski had really finished with the NFL.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if Tom Brady calls him during the season to come back and Rob answers the call,” said Rosenhaus. “It’s just my opinion, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Rob comes back during the season or next season.”

Gronkowski may imagine he’s spending the NFL season on his couch right now, but we may not have seen him hit his last Brady pass.

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